It often takes the entire Manhattan community for a K-State program to succeed. Sometimes the efforts and contributions of community members are less visible; support comes to KSU students every day, in many different forms. But sometimes, the community’s support is essential — critical even — for a program to succeed. This was the case last month for the Go Teacher program at Kansas State University.
Go Teacher, a colla-borative program of the College of Education, the Office of International Programs and the Division of Continuing Education, began in 2012. The program brings Ecuadorian students to K-State for a seven-month intensive English and teaching methodologies program. The students come to campus to improve their English and teaching skills they will use when they return to Ecuador to teach in their public school system. Many students make great sacrifices to participate in this program, leaving family, spouses and children behind to take advantage of this oppor-tunity. When the time comes to return home, students are anxious and excited to get back to their lives in Ecuador.
In December, K-State had 76 students planning to return to Ecuador the weekend before Christmas. Bags were packed, shuttles were arranged to Manhattan Regional Airport and tearful goodbyes were said to American friends they would leave behind. But Mother Nature had other plans; snow and ice forced the Manhattan airport to cancel several flights these students needed to make their way back to their families before Christmas. Due to the high volume of travel that weekend, more than half of the 76 students were forced to stay extra days, and could only find returning flights home to Ecuador out of the Kansas City airport.
This is where the Manhattan community truly began to shine. Without the support of many community members, these students would not have made it home before Christmas. While program staff worked to help students rebook flights, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church opened its doors to the students. A hot breakfast was served, and the students were able to spend time at the church throughout the day and receive support during this incredibly stressful time. Jim Wright at Carlos O’Kelley’s also stepped forward and offered a free meal to the students, since the dining centers on campus had closed for the holidays. Riley County aTa Bus worked around the clock to shuttle students from their apartments to the church, to Carlos O’Kelley’s, and to the airport for their flights.
Transportation to Kansas City was also difficult to find, as many shuttle services were booked to capacity The Helping Interna-tional Students (HIS) organiza-tion volunteered to drive students to Kansas City, and many Kansas State University employees made the two-hour drive as well, with cars, vans and U-Haul trailers full of students and their luggage.
Eventually, all of the students made it home for the holidays. Kansas State could not have accom-plished this without the tremendous support of the community. Thank you. Thank you to Father Patrick and his congregation at St. Paul’s, to Jim Wright and Carlos O’Kelley’s, to HIS, to Riley County aTa Bus, and to the entire American Airlines team at Manhattan Regional Airport.
It is because of your coop-erative, community spirit that this program, and many others like it, can continue their successes semester after semester, and year after year. Our deepest gratitude.
Effie Swanson is the International Program manager and Go Teacher, and Sue Maes is dean of the Division of Continuing Education.